Building resilience and infrastructure in a warming world

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By Jan Corfee-Morlot, New Climate Economy/ World Resources Institute (WRI), Nancy Kete, Kete Consulting and Delger Erdenesanaa, WRI


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Solar panels and roadInvestment in tackling climate change is still very small compared to the expected adverse impacts on society and nature. The economic costs of climate change are estimated to range from 2-10% of global GDP loss by the end of this century. Flood-related damages alone under high emissions scenarios might account for 3% of global GDP in 2100, translating to losses in the range of USD 14-27 trillion per year. In today’s US dollars, this would be equivalent to losing the combined GDP of China and India in the best-case scenario, and US, Canada and Germany combined, in the worst case.

Currently most climate funding supports work to reduce emissions rather than for adaptation to impacts. While the world must strive for net-zero emissions and the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must at the same time plan for conditions that may be much worse. Continue reading

The health of the planet and intra-generational equity – lessons learnt from a pandemic

By Milindo Chakrabarti, Professor, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, O.P. Jindal Global University, Haryana and Visiting Fellow, RIS, New Delhi, and Jhalak Aggarwal, Post-Graduate Student, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, O.P. Jindal Global University, Haryana


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Covid-climate-enviromentAmidst the disorder ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic, the spread of the virus has curtailed human destruction of the environment. During lockdowns, less cars moved around and less companies dumped their pollutants. At a time when virtually the whole world was under lockdown, “daily global CO2 emissions decreased by 17% by early April 2020 compared with the mean 2019 levels, just under half from changes in surface transport. At their peak, emissions in individual countries decreased by 26% on average” notes a study by the Global Carbon Project published in May. Unfortunately, the trend is reversing with the easing of lockdown measures. The same study predicts that by the end of the year the estimated decline in global carbon emissions will be around 4% if restrictions are lifted, and potentially higher at around 7% if restrictions persist until the end of 2020. Furthermore, to revive and stabilise the economy, attempts are underway to relax environmental regulations and help create new livelihood opportunities to replace those destroyed by the pandemic.

If there is a link between the COVID-19 crisis and emissions declines, reversely, is there a link between the climate crisis and the emergence and spread of the Coronavirus? Continue reading

How COVID-19 is changing the opportunities for oil and gas-led growth

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By Glada Lahn and Siân Bradley, Senior Research Fellows, Energy, Environment and Resources Programme


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


shutterstock_680622253For oil and gas exporters, COVID-19 has caused a downturn like no other. From early 2020, lockdowns sent global energy demand plummeting by over a quarter. Combined with the Saudi-Russia price war, oil prices hit their lowest levels in over two decades, down to less than $20 a barrel in April. Without strategic reserve filling, the collapse would have been even steeper. As lockdowns eased and June’s OPEC-plus agreement to cut production boosted oil prices (around $40/b in June), producer countries could be forgiven for hoping that the worst is over. However, as the pandemic hit, the fossil fuel market was already facing a grim prognosis.

From boom and bust to… bust

Five years ago, Chatham House began exploring what decarbonisation might mean for extractives-led development. To achieve the Paris Agreement’s commitment to limiting global warming to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C, all credible pathways will require a radical reduction in fossil fuel use. With 76 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and close to 90% of CO2 emissions coming from the burning of coal, oil and gas, the implications for these markets are profound. We are no longer talking about a cycle of boom and bust, but about structural decline. Continue reading

Middle East and North Africa: The challenge of a long-term strategy for oil exporting countries

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By Rahmat Poudineh, Senior Research Fellow and Director of Research, the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Oil refinery plant in Qatar

There is no single successful strategy to shield oil-exporting countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) from the long-term risks of an oil price crash, exposing them to serious long-term challenges.

Diversification for example, works only when it reduces risk by pooling uncorrelated income streams and sectors. If countries diversify only into sectors that rely on hydrocarbon infrastructure and where relationships (tangible and non-tangible) exist across fossil and non-fossil fuel businesses, they cannot build resilience. On the other hand, if they diversify into substantively different areas that have little in common with their current primary industry, which is the core of their comparative advantage, they run the risk of not being competitive. Moreover, the cost of reducing the long-term risks and increasing resilience of their core sector is to accept lower expected return on existing hydrocarbon assets, for instance, by investing in measures that align their hydrocarbon sector with low carbon scenarios. This lowers the overall return but reduces the risk of disruption in the long run. Continue reading

A new approach to the intractable problem of climate change

By François Candelon, Managing Director and Senior Partner at BCG Paris, and the Global Director of the BCG Henderson Institute, Rodolphe Charme di Carlo, Principal at BCG Paris, and Ambassador at the BCG Henderson Institute, and Yves Morieux, Managing Director and Senior Partner at BCG Middle East, BCG Fellow, and head of BCG Institute for Organization


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


climate-change-covid-19COVID-19 is climate on warp speed” said Gernot Wagner, climate economist at NYU. Both trends show exponential growth – in infected people and CO2 emissions respectively – while capacity to fight them remains limited. Still, while governments enforce emergency measures around the globe, little action on climate has happened to date. Therefore, the actual question to solve is not “what can we do?” but rather “why not now?”

Bringing an alternative and rigorously structured approach can help to find practical, impactful solutions. The concept of Smart Simplicity, applying principles of sociology to solving complex organisational problems in business and beyond, can play this role by analysing inaction from two angles. First, the systemic lens – stemming from Thomas Schelling’s work – assesses how individual behaviours combine to produce collective outcomes that cannot directly be traced back to individual motives. Second, the strategic lens, legacy of Herbert Simon’s “bounded rationality”, analyses individual behaviours within the context of problems they try to solve, with resources to mobilise and constraints to cope with. Continue reading

A greening response to development at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic

 By John A. Mathews, Professor Emeritus, Macquarie University


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


planet-mask-greening-covidAmid all the gloomy news surrounding the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, one response stands out. Suddenly the role of government and public institutions in combating the spread of the disease is seen as vital. The former neoliberal rants at the alleged wastefulness and inefficiency of the public sector can now be seen for what they are – ideologically freighted missiles that ignored reality.

Now in a time of pandemic, a good public health system is seen as a vital ally. In the best cases it encompasses a sound case monitoring system, a capacity to test and trace cases, to provide clinical care in pandemic isolation, to set up and enforce quarantine arrangements, to supply vital protective equipment, to provide wage subsidies to cushion the economic impact, to mobilize government stimulus packages, and much else besides. Continue reading

How China is implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

 By Xiheng Jiang, Vice-President of China Center for International Knowledge on Development (CIKD)

 

Photo by Robert Bye on UnsplashThe United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019 shows that, while advances have been made in some areas, monumental challenges remain. The world is not on track to end poverty and millions still live in hunger. People in absolute poverty will remain at 6% by 2030, falling short of the 3% goal. It is also alarming that undernourished people went up from 784 million in 2015 to 821 million in 2017 and 55% of the population have no access to social protection. The report stresses that climate change and inequality are two major challenges, which demand enhanced national and collective action across countries, facilitated by international organizations.

China’s Progress Report on Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2019) was also unveiled at UN Headquarters in September 2019. This second progress report since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015, takes stock of China’s progress in pursuing the SDGs, identifies the gaps and formulates plans for next steps. The report features cases depicting efforts by Chinese governments at all levels, also showing how the private sector and general public are contributing. So, how is China implementing the SDGs through its development policies? China is pushing its sustainable development forward in three key areas; eradicating extreme poverty, building an “ecological civilization” and contributing to global climate and sustainability governance.
Continue reading

Why should investors care about ocean health?

by Dennis Fritsch, PhD, Researcher, Responsible Investor


This blog is part of the
OECD Private Finance for Sustainable Development Conference


Ocean health

“The World’s Oceans Are in Trouble. And So Are Humans, Warns U.N. Report” – a blaring headline in Time Magazine just after the IPCC published their landmark report Oceans and the Cryosphere in September 2019. It highlights what scientists and NGOs have been shouting from the rooftops for years: human activity has put the global ocean in a dire state and by doing so is endangering planetary life as we know it. But how has it come this far? In addition to producing over half of the oxygen we breathe, being the largest carbon sink on the planet and a haven for biodiversity, a healthy ocean is a source of economic livelihoods for billions of people. The value of global ocean assets is estimated at over USD 24 trillion[1] making it the 7th largest economy in the world in GDP terms. Due to its integral role in the global financial and environmental ecosystems, the ocean is high on the international policy agenda[2] and its importance continues to grow. The global ‘Blue Economy’ is expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy until 2030[3], and already contributes USD 2.5 trillion a year in economic output. Continue reading

Forging a new way forward for development co-operation in the face of the climate crisis

By Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate

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Time is running out. The climate crisis is rapidly altering the systems that underpin life on Earth, multiplying existing threats to development while creating new obstacles. It will influence how countries develop for the rest of this century and beyond. As we head into 2020 — when countries will prepare and submit their next round of commitments under the Paris Agreement to commence its implementation — it is timely to check in on progress so far. Specifically, how donor countries and providers of development co-operation are accounting for climate change and aligning their activities with the objectives of the Agreement to ensure they are not supporting unsustainable development.

The climate crisis is affecting communities across the globe, most recently contributing to catastrophic bushfires in multiple states of Australia.  At the same time in the central and southern parts of Mozambique, at least 1.6 million people are in need of assistance due to the devastating effects of the ongoing drought and increasingly severe weather events linked to climate change. These event have been unfolding just months after disastrous fires in the Amazon, underscoring that we are indeed living in a new normal. Amid these events, at the 2019 United Nations (UN) Climate Action Summit in New York this past September, the OECD brought together over 30 climate and development leaders to urgently discuss the imperative to align the development and climate agendas, reflecting on key messages and priorities for the institutions that provide development co-operation. Continue reading

Strengthening development in the face of the climate crisis and environmental degradation

By Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate and Andrew Norton, Director, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

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Aftermath of a Brazilian Amazon fire

The climate emergency and broader environmental destruction — from forest devastation to loss of biodiversity to depleted water supplies — are challenging international aid agencies’ collective ability to support sustainable development.

Despite awareness of these growing pressures, these issues are often peripheral to how development agencies work. True, most members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) have adopted environmental safeguards and are refocusing some of their actions on tackling the climate crisis. Too often, however, development agencies overlook other pressing environmental problems, such as sustainable management of forests, land and water, and related health issues such as sanitation, indoor air pollution and urban slum improvements.  In short, agencies have yet to fully integrate environmental concerns ― including climate change ― in their policies, plans, budgets and actions.

But how? The DAC examined the practices of its members — focusing on the European Union, Sweden and Canada — with support from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and identified five steps that agencies should adopt if they want to effectively tackle critical environmental challenges and threats: Continue reading